Book Review: Harry Potter the Creature Vault by Jody Revenson

by DerdriuMarriner

Harry Potter: The Creature Vault by Jody Revenson has fast facts about the inspiration, nativity, reality, and virtuality of the animals and plants in J.K. Rowling’s wizard world.

Harry Potter's world brims with animals and plants:

Harry Potter: The Creature Vault by Jody Revenson accommodates reader and viewer interest in the real and virtual inspirations behind the creatures and plants from the serialized world of J.K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling’s Harry Potter books and in the derived Harry Potter films. It brings to botany-minded readers the greenhouse of:
• Devil’s Snares;
• Dirigible Plums;
• mandrakes;
• Mimbulus mimbletonia;
• Venomous Tentaculae; and
• Whomping Willows.

It clusters into zoological categories:
• companions (Arnold, Crookshanks, Errol, Fang, Fawkes, Hedwig, Mrs. Norris, Nagini, Pigwidgeon, Scabbers, Trevor);
• dark forces (Basilisk, Dementor, Inferius);
• forest dwellers (Acromantula, Centaurs, Hippogriffs, Thestrals, Unicorns);
• lake dwellers (Grindylow, Merpeople);
• shape-shifters (Animagus, Boggart, Werewolves);
• sky dwellers (Cornish pixies, dragons);
• trespassers (giants, gnomes, trolls); and
• workers (Fluffy, goblins, House-elves, Post Owls).




Hedwig: Harry Potter's personal owl

According to animal trainer Julie Tottman, training the owls to deliver letters was one of the most difficult assignments of her stellar career.
Trompe l'oeil window in High Street, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, northwestern England
Trompe l'oeil window in High Street, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, northwestern England

Harry Potter's world gives animals and plants "personalities"


The Harry Potter octet displays botanical and zoological plausibility, with naturalism determining all horizontal motions and vertical movements. It expresses the competent cooperation of:

  • animators;
  • concept artists Wayne Barlow, Rob Bliss, Adam Brockbank, Julian Caldow, Paul Catling, Dermot Power, Andrew Williamson;
  • creatures effects supervisor and special makeup effects artist Nick Dudman;
  • cyberscanners;
  • designers;
  • fabricators;
  • modelers;
  • production designer Stuart Craig;
  • sculptors;
  • and visual development artist Rob Bliss.

Standard operating procedures furnish all creations individualized personalities, thanks to:

  • conceptualists determining the closest mythological and real-life equivalents;
  • designers exploring computer generation, creature shop maquettes, effects department models; and
  • developers fitting life-size models to cyberscans or practical animations.

Similar procedures likewise guide supervisor Gary Geno’s and head trainer Julie Tottman’s animals.


Julie Tottman, head trainer for the Harry Potter film franchise, is encharged with the UK arm of animal whisperer Gary Gero's Birds & Animals.

animal whisperer Julie Tottman and Crookshanks
animal whisperer Julie Tottman and Crookshanks

Harry Potter's world lets animals be paid actors


One set of Harry Potter’s animal acquaintances has real-life counterparts. Its representation is through animal actors:

  • Alanis, Maximus, Tommy Maine Coon cats as Mrs. Norris;
  • Bandit, Elmo, Gizmo, Kasper, Oh Oh, Ook, Swoops snowy owls as Hedwig;  
  • Bella, Bully, Hugo, Monkey, Uno, Vita Neapolian Mastiffs as Fang;
  • Cloud and Fern -- Kilbourn deerhounds -- and Scottish deerhound Quinn as Sirius Black’s Animagus;
  • Crackerjack, Prince, Pumpkin red Persian cats as Crookshanks;
  • Dex rat as Peter Pettigrew’s Animagus Scabbers;
  • Mars scops owl as Mars;
  • Mrs. P. Head grey tabby as Minerva Mc Gonagall’s Animagus;
  • Zeus great grey owl as Errol.

Another set interprets mythological creatures by studying animal actors:

  • Burmese python Doris for Basilisk; and
  • horse Fado for unicorns.


Mimbulus mimbulina cactus: In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the cactus is gifted to Neville Longbottom as a 15th birthday present from his great-uncle Algie, who brought the cactus back from Assyria.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour, Leavesden Green, Watford, Englan
Warner Brothers Studio Tour, Leavesden Green, Watford, Englan

Harry Potter's world qualifies as creature- and wizard-friendly


A third set juxtaposes invention, mythology, and reality:

  • anacondas, cobras, pythons, vipers for Nagini;
  • golden eagles for Hippogriffs;
  • Picts for Cornish pixies;
  • sea eagles, vultures for phoenixes;
  • sturgeon for Merpeople; and
  • timber wolves for Werewolves.

A fourth set keeps plants reality-based:

  • mandrakes;
  • Mimbulus mimbletonia cacti;
  • radish-like Dirigible Plums;
  • vine-like Devil’s Snare, Venomous Tentaculae; and
  • Whomping Willows.

It leads readers smoothly into the inputs which generate this must-have reader-friendly output and viewer-friendly vault of concept illustrations, fast facts, interactive Eeylops Owl Emporium catalogue, and removable poster, thanks to:

  • Harper Design, publisher;
  • Insight Editions, manufacturer and producer;
  • Jody Revenson, author; and
  • Roots of Peace planting of two trees for every one used in Harry Potter: The Creature Vault’s publication.


Harry Potter: The Creature Vault: The Creatures and Plants of the Harry Potter Films by Jody Revenson ~ available via Amazon

A removable poster picturing each of the creatures and an interactive Eeylops Owl Emporium catalog complete this must-have package.
Harry Potter: The Creature Vault: The Creatures and Plants of the H...



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Inside Harry Potter: The Creature Vault

Published on YouTube on September 12, 2014 by HarperBooks ~ URL:

Sources Consulted


Revenson, Jody. 2014. Harry Potter: The Creature Vault. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers' imprint Harper Design; and San Rafael, CA: Insight Editions.


One of the many memorable creatures in the Harry Potter series is Dobby, a House-elf who was freed from misery in the Malfoy household and later lost his life to save Harry and his companions.

Dobby: illustration by Rob Bliss
The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Leavesden, England
The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Leavesden, England
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Harry Potter - Hogwarts Crest: white t-shirt ~ available via AllPosters

Harry Potter - Hogwarts Crest
Ad AllPosters

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 03/28/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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